'I Don't Need Friends': Why You Might Feel This Way

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There are many reasons why you might say, “I don’t need friends.” You might feel that friendship doesn’t offer a lot of value in your life. Or you might feel that you already have plenty of social support from your family so that you don’t need a wide circle of friends or acquaintances. 

According to one survey, not having friends is more common than you might think. YouGov, a market research and polling firm, found that 22% of Millenials say that they have no friends.

Whatever your reasons for dismissing friendship, it can be helpful to think about the potential pros and cons of having friends. Social support is important for emotional health, but having a wide circle of friends isn’t necessary as long as you feel like you have the support that you need.

This article discusses why you might feel like you don’t need friends, statistics on how many people have no friends, and some of the benefits of making friends. It also discusses what you can do if you decide to add some friendships to your life.

Reasons You Feel Like You Don't Need Friends

If you feel like you don't need friends in your life, there are a few different reasons why you might feel this way. Some factors that might contribute to your dismissal of friendship include:

  • You prefer solitude: Some people tend to prefer solitude over being in the company of others, particularly people who tend to be more introverted.
  • You fear disappointment: Like other different types of social connections, friendship comes with expectations and a need for give-and-take. If you’re afraid that you can’t live up to these expectations or you think that others will let you down, you might prefer to avoid getting involved in friendships as a way to minimize the risk of being disappointed or of disappointing other people.
  • You're close to your family: You might also feel like your family members are your friends. If they give you the connection and support you need, you may feel less of a need to seek friendships outside of your family circle.
  • You don't want to get hurt: If you’ve been deeply hurt by a friend in the past, you might have trust issues. As a result, you might be hesitant to begin new friendships with other people. 
  • You're too busy: Building and maintaining friendships takes time and effort. If you are busy with other obligations such as family, work, or school, you might simply feel that you don’t have the time or energy to devote to friends.

One major reason why people might eschew friendship is that many people turn to their partner or other family members before they turn to their friends. Surveys suggest that people tend to rely on their friends as their primary source of support less frequently than they did in the past. 

For example, a 1990 Gallup poll found that 26% of adults would turn to a close friend first with a personal problem; in 2021, only 16% of adults said they would talk to a friend before anyone else.

Recap

There are many reasons why you might feel like you don't need friends. Preferring solitude, being close to members of your family, and being busy with other things are just a few factors that may play a role. Fear of being disappointed or hurt by friends can also be a contributing factor.

How Common Is It to Have No Friends?

How many people say that they have no friends? While you might feel alone in your solitude, it is actually more common than you think. 

  • One survey suggested that 27% of millennials reported having no close friends, while 22% reported having no friends at all. For comparison, only 16% of Gen Xers and 9% of baby boomers reported not having any friends.
  • Another 2021 survey found that 49% of adults reported that they had three or few close friends.
  • Other surveys have found similar results. A poll by the Associated Press found that 18% of respondents reported having one or fewer people outside of their immediate household that they could ask for help if they needed it.

Why do many younger people report having few or no friends? While the exact reasons are not entirely clear, increased social media and internet use might play a major role.

Research has found that people who use social media more frequently tend to experience higher levels of depression and loneliness.

Surveys also suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in changing the state of friendship for many adults in the U.S. Among young women, nearly 60% reported losing touch with a few friends during the pandemic, while 16% reported losing contact with most or all of their friends. 

Polls also suggest that young men also struggle with social connections. Twenty-eight percent of men under the age of 30 have no close personal connections.

While recent challenges have caused some people to lose touch with old friends, surveys have also found that nearly 50% of adults have made at least one new friend in the past year.

Recap

Survey suggest that having few or no friends is not uncommon. Millennials are most likely to report having no friends, and those numbers may be growing as a result of social media, internet use, and world events.

Benefits of Having Friends

Research suggests that having a healthy support system is important for your mental well-being, even if you often think that you don't need them.  Even if you often think that you don't need friends, having a social circle to support you can be important for your mental health and well-being. Research has found that having a social support system is associated with less stress and anxiety. 

Having strong friendships can also help to improve your physical health. Friends might increase the chances of you doing daily tasks such as exercise and eating well.

Friendship is also linked to less loneliness. Loneliness has been shown to take a serious toll on health and mortality. Studies have found that people who have quality friendships are better able to cope with stress and are even less likely to experience stress in the first place.

Friends can also offer emotional support when you need it. Friends can help validate your emotions, listen to your problems, and do things to help you feel better. One study found that people who had strong friendships were more resilient, meaning they were better equipped to deal with challenges and bounced back more quickly in the face of life's difficulties.

Finally, having friends can help you feel as if you belong to something that brings purpose and connection to your life.

Recap

It is important to be aware that friendships can be an important part of your social support system. Social support offers a number of benefits including preventing loneliness, increasing connectedness, and improving physical and mental health.

Is It OK to Not Need Friends?

So while research suggests that friendship can be important for your well-being, this doesn’t mean that you have to be surrounded by other people or have a long list of close friends to be happy or healthy. Whether your lack of friends is detrimental to your well-being really depends on your perspective and how you feel about it.

In other words, there's a big difference between thinking "I don't need friends" and "I don't have friends."

If you are happy and content without friends, then it probably isn’t hurting you. In fact, being on your own can have a number of benefits as well. Solitude and spending time by yourself has been linked to some positive effects such as:

  • Increased creativity
  • Better concentration and memory
  • Improved self-awareness
  • Greater productivity
  • More time for personal growth

Research has also found that spending time alone can actually be important for improving your existing relationships. In fact, some research has found that among people who are highly intelligent, more time spent with friends actually decreases satisfaction levels.

So doing things on your own may actually make you more satisfied and happier about the relationships you have with the others in your life.

Recap

The effects of not having friends may depend on your perspective. If you are happy and still have social support, you are likely fine with your social situation. If you feel lonely or isolated, however, it may be time to think about expanding your social circle.

Why You Might Feel Lonely

Loneliness is the feeling of being alone or lacking company. You don't have to be physically alone in order to feel lonely, either—you might feel this way even when you are around other people.

It is a natural emotion that's practically inevitable at some point throughout your life. So if you find yourself feeling lonely, even if you feel like you don’t need friends, there are ways that you can cope with such difficult emotions.

  • Understand why you feel lonely: If you feel lonely because you feel disconnected from others, there are ways to reach out to other people even if you aren’t seeking friendships. Spend time in social settings and talk to other people you encounter throughout your day.
  • Don’t dwell: Keep yourself busy and don't allow yourself to dwell on your loneliness for extended periods of time. Find something productive or entertaining to do.
  • Stop making comparisons: Don't compare your life to those of people around you. Even if you have few or no friends, it doesn't mean that your life is less fulfilling or less valuable. Instead of envying what other people have, celebrate what makes your life special. Focus on your feelings of gratitude for the things you have and love.

If You Decide to Seek Out Friends

While might feel like you don’t need friends to be happy, it is important to have people you can trust and can turn to when you need support. People are social creatures and tend to thrive when they have high-quality connections with other people.

If you are interested in expanding your social circle and making a few friends, there are things that you can do to meet people you share things in common with:

  • Volunteer for something: Find an organization or cause that you care about. Spending time working on something that is important to you is a great way to meet like-minded people who share your interests and passions.
  • Explore a new hobby: One of the best ways to meet new people is to simply pursue the things that you enjoy. Sign up for a community class devoted to something you want to learn more about, whether it’s cooking, painting, or computer coding. Joining a hiking group, joining a sports team, or attending a book club at your local library are just a few ideas that can help you build new connections with people who may become great friends.
  • Find friends at work: The workplace is where 54% of adults report meeting their closest friends. Shared time and experiences often serve as the basis for strong friendships.

Remember that making friends as an adult is often much more difficult than it was when you were a child. It may take time, effort, and being willing to put yourself out there. And once you make connections with people, it is important to continue to nurture and maintain those interpersonal relationships.

A Word From Verywell

While friendship can have benefits, you might feel like you don’t need friends. The effect that has on your life and health depends largely on how you feel about the situation. If you are isolated and long for social connections, your loneliness will likely have a negative impact on your well-being.

Everyone needs some social contact and people who they can turn to for support. You might get this from your partner or from members of your family, which means that you might feel less of a need to seek out friends. This is often fine, but be sure to check in with yourself periodically to see if you might need to reevaluate your needs. 

It is also important to make sure that you aren’t placing an undue burden on one or two people in your life who might not be able to meet your social needs all on their own. Having people to lean on, whether they are friends, family, co-workers, or other social connections, can play a part in supporting your emotional health.

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.